Helmut Marko

Full Name:
Dr Helmut Marko
Born:
27th April 1943 (Age 76)
Graz, Styria
Nationality:
Austrian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

A school friend of Jochen Rindt, Helmut Marko obtained a doctorate of law from the University of Graz. His studies delayed any racing ambitions before he competed in Formula Vee and F3 during the late 1960s.

Impressing in sports cars and saloons

It was in sports cars and saloons that he first came to the fore in 1970. He won the European Touring Car Championship race at the Salzburgring for BMW Alpina and finished third in the Le Mans 24 Hours with a works Porsche 908/2. He won that race in 1971 when sharing a Martini-sponsored Porsche 917 with Gijs van Lennep and was also successful in that year’s ETCC with a Ford Germany Capri RS.

Formula 1 with BRM

Marko’s varied 1971 campaign also included starring in 2000cc sports cars with Karl von Wendt’s Lola T212 and his Formula 1 debut. He won the former thanks to three victories but failed to qualify Jo Bonnier’s McLaren M7C-Ford for the German Grand Prix. However, he joined BRM for the final four races of the year and he was retained for 1972.

Fourth in the non-championship Brazilian GP and eighth in Monaco, he also drove for Alfa Romeo in sports cars with second on the Targa Florio the best of several placings. His F1 form took a sharp upturn during qualifying for the French GP when his BRM P160B was sixth fastest around Clermont-Ferrand. He was running fifth when a stone thrown up by a rival pierced his visor and blinded the Austrian in one eye.

Retirement and driver management

Forced to retire from racing as a result, Marko turned to driver management with Helmuth Koinigg, Hans-Georg Bürger and Markus Höttinger among his early protégés. Sadly all three would be killed in racing accidents but Gerhard Berger’s success in European Formula 3 provided happier times. His RSM Marko team won championships in German F3 (Karl Wendlinger in 1989 and Jörg Müller five years later) and Formula 3000 (Müller again in 1996).

The team was sponsored by Red Bull for the first time in 1999 and Marko became increasingly influential in Dietrich Mateschitz’s racing activities. Although not officially a member of Red Bull Racing today, he remains a key influencer behind the scenes running its young driver initiative.